Airdate: May 11, 2014
Directed by: Alik Sakharov
Written by: George R.R. Martin (“A Song of Ice and Fire” by), David Benioff (creator), D.B. Weiss (creator), Bryan Cogman (written for television by)
Last week’s episode saw some narrative movement in the north beyond the Wall, but less so in other areas of Westeros and Slaver’s Bay. Much like in previous seasons, pawns are being put into place so that the larger events of the season climax can be set into motion. This week, we’re going to see storylines we’ve been skipping the last few weeks, and the trial of one of my favorite characters (no names until after the break). Will he be found innocent or guilty? Will he live or die? His fate is out of his hands, but at least the trial should bring some interesting movement back to Westeros.
<<Spoiler Alert: This preview of Game of Thrones S04E06 – “The Laws of Gods and Men” – will discuss major plot points and events suggested by previous events and the events shown in the Promo video; read further at your own risk!>>
This week’s IMDB synopsis reads: Stannis and Davos set sail with a new strategy. Dany meets with supplicants. Tyrion faces down his father in the throne room.
So we’re definitely getting some more of the Stannis storyline (which we’ll also see in the Promo video below). “Set sail” is clever in that it is both figurative (as in starting something new, the intent here), and literal, as they’ll be getting off of Dragonstone – thank goodness. The last several times we’ve seen Stannis, he’s mostly been looking stern and burning things. I understand that this is all about establishing character and motivation, but I would like to see the other kind of motivation – the physical, let’s get him off this tiny rock kind. Stannis has a ton of potential to be an interesting character, especially with the misguided/evil Melisandre at his side, and Ser Davos is actually one of my favorite characters, with his sense of honor and perspective, not to mention he carries a bag with his own finger bones around his neck. The Onion Knight (so called because he smuggled onions and other food to Stannis during Robert’s Rebellion) is a complex man, and a voice of reason in an otherwise sick and twisted camp; more of him is always welcome, even if I don’t much care for his liege.
Daenerys’s storyline was already showing signs of imminent stagnation last week, and if all she does is meet with supplicants this week, I feel that this will be nothing more than a way of keeping a fan-favorite character in the show on a regular basis. This is not Benioff and Weiss’s faults, as it is something that originates in the source material. Dany is definitely an important character, and at times her story has been the most interesting on a week-by-week basis, but right now other stories are going to get more attention.
The bulk of the episode will likely take place at King’s Landing, and will focus on Tyrion’s trial for the murder of King Joffrey. We all know that he’s innocent (Olenna and Littlefinger have variously admitted to others their complicity and guilt), but that won’t stop Cersei from trying to get him executed. She thinks she has Tywin in her pocket, and he does always put family interests first, but he is, in his own way, an honorable man. Things are unlikely to go as either Cersei or Tyrion hope they will, but will likely fall somewhere in-between. If there is any doubt as to Tyrion’s guilt in Tywin’s mind, he should find his second son not-guilty – but will he find other ways to make his least-favorite offspring pay a price?
Perhaps we can find some more clues in this week’s Promo video:
We open on Yara Greyjoy’s face, as her men row her ashore. Cut to her holding a blade to a man’s throat in flickering torchlight, saying, “I’m here for Theon Greyjoy.” As she says his name, we cut again, this time to Theon’s face in close up, as he suddenly opens his eyes. Next we see several soldiers standing shoulder-to-shoulder in a hallway, the Greyjoy sigil – a large kraken – on their shields. Behind them stand Yara, dual handaxes at the ready, with a staggering Theon beside her. Confronting them are Ramsay Snow and some of his men. He’s covered in lash marks all over his naked chest and abdomen, twin daggers held in his hands. He says, “This is turning into a lovely evening,” as he smiles with anticipation, then grimaces as he rushes forward. Next, a Braavosi banker in voice-over, saying, “And you think your blood, gives you a claim, to our gold.” It is said as statement, not question. While he speaks, we see Ser Davos standing behind Stannis, and then the banker speaking, cutting to Stannis sitting across a table from him. Stannis replies, “More than any man living.”
Cut to a shot of Drogon, Dany’s black dragon, as he flies above, then to Daenerys’s throne room in Meereen, flanked by Sers Jorah and Barristan, Grey Worm standing in front of the dais and Daario off to one side; a supplicant stands beneath her. As we’re looking at this tableau, Varys speaks in voice-over: “She has conquered the city,” we cut to Varys addressing the Small Council with the additions of Lord Mace Tyrell and Prince Oberyn. He finishes, “and rules as its Queen.” Cut to Oberyn talking with Varys in front of the Iron Throne, saying, “Everyone’s interested in something.” Both men look at the vacant seat. Next, we see Jayme in his Commander’s uniform, telling Tywin, “You’ve always hated Tyrion.” Jump to Tywin, who replies, “He killed his King.” Back to the throne room, and Tyrion, arms chained, is being brought into his trial by two King’s Guards. We focus briefly on Cersei, and then on Jayme, as we hear him say, “This isn’t a trial, it’s a farce.” Tyrion looks back at someone, surprise on his face, as we hear and then see Tywin – Mace Tyrell to his left – sitting the Iron Throne, say, “Do you wish to confess?” Back to Tyrion, who leans forward about to speak. Why do I get the feeling he’s going to say something awesome in reply to his father’s question? Something a la Oscar Wilde’s famous line, “I have nothing to declare but my genius” would fit Tyrion’s character well.
So we’re going to be focusing on four different stories this week. In addition to the three mentioned in the synopsis, we’re also going to be seeing Yara trying to rescue her brother – or at least what’s left of him. Ramsay does not look too keen on losing his plaything just yet, so it should be interesting to see how things pan out. Remember how he acted when he had the chance to slice Ramsay’s throat a few weeks ago, when he held the straight-razor. If he wasn’t able to help himself in that case, what will he do when presented again with a choice?
Stannis heading to Braavos is a very interesting move. Wars, as Tywin pointed out last week, take a lot of money. If Stannis can get money from the Iron Bank, it will add to his air of legitimacy, and will help him to finance a rebuilding of his navy, something he needs if he is ever going to defeat the Lannisters. There is little love for Stannis, but money can buy at least loyalty, if not affection.
Showing Drogon may only be a tease – unless Dany decides to do something about her failed liberation of Yunkai and Astapor. Showing her seems more pertinent to the scene with the Small Council back in King’s Landing. Varys’s report means two things: one, he is getting information about Dany’s movements in Slaver’s Bay; and two, his loyalties might be shifting. He’s shown a desire in the past to see stability in Westeros, which he recognizes as coming from the Iron Throne. He couldn’t, therefore, support Joffrey – and in fact his loyalty seemed to be more in line with Eddard Stark initially, and the absent Daenerys more lately. However, with the accession of a stable ruler in Tommen, who will be surrounded by intelligent advisers (including Varys himself), perhaps he has decided that he can work with the Lannisters after all. The more interesting point, then, is how is he getting his information? The two likely suspects are Sers Jorah and Barristan. Jorah has already admitted to being eyes in the east some time ago, but has since sworn absolute loyalty to Dany – but once a spy…. Ser Barristan hasn’t been developed enough to be sure of his character, but he doesn’t seem the type – which would thus make him a much more attractive spy to Varys. Daario is a possibility, as being a mercenary he understands the value of coin. The only one beyond question is Grey Worm. His background as a slave means he never had an opportunity to forge western contacts, and his loyalty to Dany for freeing him, mean he is the least likely to turn against her.
The trial will be the main focal point and the pivotal narrative juncture of this episode. Tyrion is such a major player that much hinges on how his trial goes. Based on what we’ve seen in the Promo, Tywin is already convinced of Tyrion’s guilt – but what information may come to light at the trial that we have yet to see? The Lannisters, and especially Cersei, need a scapegoat, and who better than the little brother who was prophesied to bring her doom? Even if he is found guilty, we won’t have seen the last of Tyrion; he has allies, not the least of which is his own brother, and he still has a role to play in Westeros.
Next week will set the table for the last four episodes of the season, leading us into what will likely be an exciting penultimate episode followed by a somewhat slower paced finale – at least if we follow the same structure as the first three seasons. It’ll be nice to have Tyrion back this week, and at least Stannis is beginning to move. Now, if only Dany would get motivated to get out of Slaver’s Bay, we might get some more excitement back in good old Westeros.